How We Deal With Death
Doom isn’t really doom until it’s up close and personal. Until life hurls you into the path of a mile wide tornado or a category four hurricane, plants you in a car hurtling off the road or into the path of a semi, threatens you with a deadly infection or terminal illness, it may be someone’s doom, somewhere, but it isn’t your doom.
From shortly after I turned eighteen until I turned forty, I worked in hospitals. Over that time, I saw many hundreds of people struggle with injury and disease. Some lived; some died. Some deaths came as a blessing while others seemed tragedies of staggering unkindness. In the end, as much as I cared for the patients, carried out the ordered treatments, offered what solace and support I could, the struggle was theirs; I was an outsider in their confrontations with doom.
At four times in my life, however, I struggled with doom. I confronted the real and imminent possibility of my own death in a violent rape, a near-fatal infection, a car-train crash and in the momentary madness of a friend who put a loaded gun to my head and pulled the trigger. My moments of doom, up close and very personal.
It isn’t surprising then, to find death and doom in much of my fiction. The struggle is the very heart of the Hero’s Journey. That sudden confrontation grabs him by the throat, batters him against the rock of his own flaws, throws him into a torrential flow of potential destructions and, if he is lucky or brave, casts him onto the shore of change that leads to the end of the journey – whether in life or in death.
In this section, I’ve included five of my short stories and an excerpt from my novel, An Uncivil War, in which the characters struggle with doom and death up close and personal.